Born at home in my grandmother’s house in Nottingham, England in 1957, I was welcomed into a loving circle of women. My mother was supported in labour by her own mother, one of her sisters and the local midwife. This was during the time of Call the Midwife, when birth was simply another day-to-day event in the village. Pregnant women were comforted in the knowing their friends and neighbours were held safely to give birth in the bosom of the community.
I believe it is my undisturbed entry into the world, a cradle of loving care, that has propelled me to follow my soul calling as a Childbirth Educator, Doula and later, a Trainer of Doulas. This has led me to explore the many aspects of birth and also to feel a growing curiosity as to what happened to my own placenta?* Followed by the desire to symbolically acknowledge and celebrate the significance of this beautiful organ that nourished me in my mother’s womb.
*During a guided shamanic healing process, I intuitively felt that my own placenta had been wrapped in newspaper and disposed of by the midwife. Shortly after this intuition vision, I watched this occur on an episode of Call the Midwife – this felt right to me, and I’m sure the creators of this popular television drama have done the relevant historical research. (Any further insights into the disposal of homebirth placentas in England the 1950’s would be gratefully received.)
In my exploration and research of placenta rituals in different cultures, I came across the work of Aboriginal Elder, Minmia, Wirradjirri Law Woman and Teacher, whose writings touched my heart and inspired me to follow her guidance in reclaiming my birthright connection to Mother Earth. Minmia talks of the importance of belonging to Country and the indigenous belief that we belong to the Oneness of Creation and the great significance of the place of our birth. In her book, Under the Quandong Tree, Minmia shares –
“If you are born of this land, you are of this land, and therefore you are entitled to the teaching of this land by birth. And for those not born of this land, they can belong by doing the Rebirth Ceremony.”
I have now resided in Australia for more than half my life, this is where I belong, and is the place I call home. In March 2018, I made the journey back to Uluru, the Red Centre of Australia, the place that called me here to live in this ancient land. I share the story of this soul calling in my book Sacred Earth Wisdom – Journey of the Heart & Soul to the Healing Sites.
My dear friend and doula for the ceremony, Joanna Dadd, accompanied me on the trip. I was Joanna’s doula for the births of both her children, 27 and 24 years ago, we have walked the path of motherhood together, jointly facilitated women’s circles and continue to share a passion for birthing wisdom.
I understood this would be a potent pilgrimage, my fourth visit to this deeply spiritual place, which is held as sacred by the indigenous peoples, and known as the Solar Plexus Chakra of the planet. During each previous stay, my first in 1983, I have been offered significant guidance along my soul path. What I did not expect was to experience ‘labour pains’ as part of the process!
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense for labour to precede the release of the placenta and, with Joanna as my doula, I was skilfully supported as I found myself breathing through ‘contractions’ and squatting down against a tree to move through the shamanic rebirth of myself.
At the place of ‘placenta anchoring’ I took the time to read out Blessings gifted to me by a women’s circle, held on my 60th birthday. As I breathed in all the love and acknowledgement from my dearest sisters, I felt completely held in the soft stillness of the desert.
Once completed, just like birth, I needed time to integrate the profound effects the ritual. In the weeks following I felt a subtle recalibration of my energetic body; this was supported by re-visiting the rites of passage through womanhood, suggested to me by midwife, Jane Hardwicke-Collings (School of Shamanicwomancraft). This gave me the opportunity to reclaim the major gateways of the feminine in a new and more holistic way.
Almost two years on, in January 2020, I am preparing to visit Uluru again. Feeling the call of the sacred rock for healing in these potent times, as fires rage across Australia. The predictions and astrological signs strongly indicate a further increase in the earth frequencies oat Uluru-Kata tjuta; for me it will be a journey home again.
I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, in particular the custodians of Uluru-Kata Tjuta, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. I pay my respects to them and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.
Anna Watts is the founder of Celebration of Birth Doula Academy. She is a Sacred Birth Educator, Doula Trainer, Counsellor and Spiritual Healer. The Academy offers Sacred Birth Doula and Post-natal Doula trainings for both new and experienced doulas to explore birth as a journey of transformation and healing. Please visit the website for training dates and information about her personal sessions, in person or via Skype anywhere in the world – www.celebrationofbirth.com